6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever

Some of the most iconic musical moments of all time have just been farted out on accident.
6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever

We like to think of great music as coming from a tortured musician laboring for hours over an instrument, writing and rewriting until they've met their own standard of perfection. In reality, art isn't like that, and some of the most iconic musical moments of all time have just been farted out on accident. Like ...

Rock Guitar Sound From "Satisfaction" Invented by Blown Fuse

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

The Sound You Know:

Much of the distinctive sound of rock music as you know it comes from guitar "distortion" -- usually done with the help of a gadget that turns the clean sound of a plucked guitar string into a badass growl, like in the opening notes of The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction":

The Insane Origin Story:

The song that invented the sound, Marty Robbins' "Don't Worry," is a forgettable bit of weepy '50s country. All that matters is the solo, which accidentally fathered every single heavy guitar effect you've ever heard.

For the first 90 seconds, the song is typical gentle crooning about a lonely hearted cowboy being lonely. Feel free to listen to the whole thing if you require a sleep aid. If not, just skip ahead to the 90-second mark, when the lead guitar comes in and just rocks the hell out with a level of rawness unprecedented for the time:

That's pretty much the old-time country-western equivalent of Cannibal Corpse crashing a One Direction concert and taking over mid-song. And it was completely unintentional. That sudden burst of Satanism arose because guitarist Grady Martin (one of the least metal names ever) wanted to switch to bass for the song's solo. Audio engineer Glen Snoddy (the absolute least metal name ever) couldn't reinforce the recording console in time, and the rumbly bass ended up busting a key fuse. The result was the rock 'n' roll rumble you hear above.

Decca Records

The godfather of badass rock: a man so lame he needed his guitar to remind him who the fuck he was.

Despite his guitar all but suffering a stroke, Martin dug the sound and kept playing while the tape kept recording. Twenty seconds later, the amp completely died and the sound vanished, never to be heard again. Robbins, not a fan of the new sound, wanted to re-record the solo, this time clean as a boring, boring sheet. Luckily, bigger balls prevailed and the solo survived intact.

There was the little matter of re-creating it for stage, though -- something Robbins was adamant about. After endless tinkering with this machine and that, Snoddy invented perhaps the first effects pedal in history: the Maestro Fuzztone. With a simple flick of the switch, a guitarist could now produce fuzzy, distorted sounds without having to destroy expensive equipment in the process. Unless, of course, they wanted to.

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

"Uh, we still have 45 minutes left ..."
"Hope they like armpit fart solos."

Since nobody anyone had ever heard of was peddling the pedal, it sold like crap at first. Then, a piddling bar band who called themselves The Rolling Stones used it for some filler track called "Satisfaction" and changed rock music forever.

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Simone Joyner/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

60 years later, they're still struggling for a follow-up hit.

"Kiss Him Goodbye" (the Na-Na-Hey-Hey Song) Was Intentionally Terrible

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Mercury Records

The Song You Know:

If we ask you if you've heard Steam's "Kiss Him Goodbye," you'd probably say no, and you'd be wrong. At the very least, we guarantee you've heard the "na na na na / na na na na / hey hey hey / goodbye" refrain chanted ad nauseam at sporting events whenever an opposing player gets ejected, or at a bar when an obnoxious drunk gets tossed out on his ass. It's probably the most singable kiss-off in human history:

The Insane Origin Story:

This song wasn't meant to do anything but fill space and be terrible. See, back in the days when people bought singles on records (and later, cassettes) you didn't just get the single -- each record had two sides, so typically an artist would feature the hit on the A-side and toss random bullshit on the B-side. Usually, nobody gave a shit what the B-side contained -- it might be a random cover, or an instrumental version of the single, whatever. They knew the drummer could fart into the microphone for five minutes and the record would still sell.

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Photodisc/Stockbyte/Getty Images

This is exactly what singer Gary DeCarlo had in mind back in 1969 (minus the farting, probably). He had a few surefire hits in the can but needed some mindless filler for the B-sides. So he reunited with Paul Leka and Dale Frashuer from his old band The Chateaus, simply to bang out an old song of theirs as hastily and crappily as possible. They took a failed two-minute ditty called "Kiss Him Goodbye" and butchered it to the best of their abilities. They played a keyboard over a drum track blatantly ripped off from another song. DeCarlo added percussion by banging on a goddamn block of wood. Their backing vocals were purposely off-key. Finally, they padded out the track with two-plus minutes of dummy lyrics ("na na" was what DeCarlo typically sang before he actually sat down to write words), extending the song past the four-minute mark and making it far too long and awful for any radio station of the time.

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Mercury Records

"Long and awful" was also DeCarlo's approach to his sex tape.

The song sucked so bad that, naturally, everybody loved it. DeCarlo's boss in particular was convinced the song was a hit in the making, and forced him to release it as a stand-alone single. The Not-Chateaus still hated the song, though, and if it was going to be a single, they didn't want their name attached to it. So they released it under a new moniker, Steam (so named because they saw steam come out of a manhole cover once). If you've ever chanted this song anywhere, they probably hate you for it.

Bobby Bank/WireImage/Getty Images

The cold, dead stare of a man who wants the entire front section drawn and quartered.

A Metallica Hit Came From James Hetfield Mindlessly Plucking Strings While on the Phone

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The Song You Know:

In the early '90s, metal legends Metallica decided they loved everybody, and so they wrote a gentle ballad about their feelings. The result was "Nothing Else Matters" and, sure enough, it became their biggest mainstream hit. You can judge for yourself whether or not this was also the exact moment when Metallica sold out once and for all:

The Insane Origin Story:

Frontman James Hetfield was holed up in a lonely little rich people hotel and missed his girlfriend dearly. Not enough to come home or anything, but enough to call her and eat the long-distance charges, at least. So here's Hetfield chatting with his very best girl, phone in one hand and guitar in the other, because rock stars are too good for that cumbersome shoulder-and-cheekbone method everybody else resorted to during the Dark Ages of corded telephoning. With his free hand, he started plucking strings thoughtlessly, since thoughtlessly masturbating is probably loud enough to hear over the phone. Eventually, his wandering fingers hit on this:

2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 LLIL
Via Songsterr

For the non-musical crowd, that's tablature, and those numbers tell you what fret and what string to stick your finger on. All those zeroes mean screw frets, just hit the string openly like you're 3 years old again and rockin' out on a goddamn shoe box. And that's what Hetfield found himself doing. He liked the way it sounded and decided to base a whole song around something that a cat could paw out.

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Vladimir Suponev/iStock/Getty Images

"Enter Sandbox."

Once he completed "Nothing Else Matters" and added some actual notes and chords to remind those playing along at home that he's James Hetfield and they're not, he immediately decided to ... sit on it forever. It was his song about missing his girlfriend, and nobody else would get to hear it. That is, until the rest of the band did. Their eyes practically bleeding dollar signs, they forced Hetfield to record it for their next album, and it's been a staple of proms, funerals, and beginner classes at Guitar Center ever since.

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever

A Broken String (and a Bootlegger) Created "American Woman"

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Song You Know:

You may only know "American Woman" from the Lenny Kravitz cover, but some classic rock radio station is probably playing the original right now:

The Insane Origin Story:

"American Woman," intricate "the USA is a shitty girlfriend" metaphor and all, was 100 percent made up on the fly. It's the Whose Line Is It Anyway? of protest rock.

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Hat Trick Productions

Right down to the Canadians.

In 1970, The Guess Who were unknown and broke, touring seedy dive bars and even seedier curling rinks in search of $10 payoffs and maybe some non-moldy food to eat. During one such set, guitarist Randy Bachman busted a guitar string. Being too poor to afford even a tuner, never mind a roadie to restring for him, he took care of it himself and then snuck over to the band's piano to tune.

Amazingly, the crowd reacted positively to a guy mindlessly whacking at a couple keys (perhaps because the alternative was no music). Bachman, noticing the crowd's reception, replayed the almost-riff. More positivity. So he called the band back and ordered them to start jamming, figuring the worst that could happen is they'd suck and never be allowed to rock out at the curling rink ever again.

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Boris Spremo/Toronto Star/Getty Images

"We'll still have the maple syrup bar or the moose ranch."

As for the lyrics, singer Burton Cummings had absolutely nothing in the can. So, he simply shouted any bit of blather that came to his head. For whatever reason, he had war machines, ghetto scenes, and American girls on the brain, and so into the song they went.

After finishing the song, the band realized that their improv jam could be huge. Problem: nobody remembered how to play it. Luckily for them, a renegade fan was bootleg taping the show. Rather than kick him out or send the goons after him, they asked to borrow the tape so they could learn their own song. Once they did, it became a monster hit, eventually providing a young Lenny Kravitz the excuse he needed to sing about hot girls at long last.

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Christopher Polk/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

"So I thought, 'What if the American Woman was actually a woman? Who wanted to fuck me?' That's why I'm the artist."

"Money for Nothing" Was the Rantings of a Pissed-Off Store Worker

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Warner Brothers

The Song You Know:

One of the first MTV-era hits, Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" was about how much it sucks to not be on MTV. Its lyrics chronicle the rantings of a depressed, bitter, work-a-day schlub who can't get over his jealousy of "the MTV" and how rock stars make millions for picking chords and banging groupies while he's stuck busting his back on heavy appliances that'll probably break in a month anyhow.

The Insane Origin Story:

That ranting worker was real, as were his words. "Money for Nothing" was gleaned from the unlikeliest of sources: an actual minimum-wage store worker having a really bad day.

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

That narrows it down to, what, 200 million suspects or so?

Singer/songwriter/guitarist/dire-god Mark Knopfler wrote the song, if you can call what he did "writing," while shopping for appliances. At one point, he came across a worker far too busy being pissed off to actually work. Standing in front of the store's display TVs, this guy just kept yapping on and on about how he wished he could be a millionaire rock star like the guys on "the MTV."

Also included in his rant: "that ain't workin', that's the way you do it," "them guys ain't dumb," "we got to move these color TVs," "I should've learned how to play the guitar," "that little faggot, he's a millionaire," and literally everything else from the song. That's because Knopfler, highly amused and intrigued by this worker's vent session, hid behind a shelf and simply transcribed what the man had to say.

Eventually, Knopfler realized that, hidden in these words, was an absolute moneymaker of a rock song. He took his notes home, made them rhyme, added some chords, and claimed credit for himself. He then went on to make millions, while the poor hourly ant got jack shit. We don't even know his name. Holy crap, he was right!

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

"Here's my latest single, 'No, It's Not Free Because the Barcode Won't Scan (Please Die Painfully).'"

"Yesterday" Came to Paul McCartney in a Dream (and Was Originally About Eggs)

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Les Lee/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Song You Know:

Yesterday is arguably The Beatles' most well-known song, even though only one of the mop-topped motherfuckers even plays on it. It holds the Guinness World Record for Most Recorded Song, and singing its praises is probably the closest John Lennon ever came to admitting that maybe Paul McCartney wasn't total rubbish after all.

The Insane Origin Story:

One of the greatest songs ever written came to McCartney in a dream. He was fast asleep at his girlfriend's house and suddenly jolted awake with a beautiful melody in his head. He sleepily walked over to the piano and managed to get the song out of his head and onto paper. Of course, because dreams are fickle things, McCartney's did not help him conjure up any actual lyrics. Too tired to come up with anything decent, he settled on the following bit of first draft poetry:

"Scrambled eggs, oh my baby, how I love your legs."

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
therry/iStock/Getty Images

With fried glass onions on the side.

With his ode to boning over breakfast complete, McCartney fell back asleep. Once awake, he played the song again and realized that, stupid filler lyrics aside, the melody was so tuneful, so beautiful, and so mature that there was no way he could've written it (apparently, even McCartney thought McCartney was hokey and corny). Surely he must've unintentionally plagiarized somebody. So he spent the next few months playing "Scrambled Eggs" to producers, friends, and increasingly annoyed family, waiting for an inevitable, "Um, that's Beethoven's 7th," or even worse, "Yeah, Ringo wrote that two years ago."

Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

"Now I remember -- we stuffed the sheet music up his arse and told him to never speak of it again. Good times."

Finally, after months of nobody speaking up, McCartney breathed a sigh of relief, thankful that he didn't pull a Future George Harrison after all. He finished the song, named it "Yesterday," and wisely changed the lyrical focus from "legs 'n eggs" to "I'm sad." Though being the jokester he was, we like to think he snuck in a bit of "Scrambled Eggs" during live shows from time to time. With the endless cacophony of shrieking, horny schoolgirls drowning out every note they played, who was going to notice?

6 Half-Assed Accidents Behind the Most Famous Songs Ever
Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Maybe this is what he meant by "scrambled eggs."

Drop Alexander Pan an email at alexander.pan90@gmail.com. John Martin is a teacher who also does other stuff -- you can buy things he makes here. Ryan Menezes is a writer and layout editor here at Cracked. He broke down and made a Twitter page just for his Cracked fans. Jacob frequently writes angry letters to his co-workers. He also tweets, because he is a beautiful and unique snowflake.

For more accidental successes, check out 6 Iconic Movie Scenes That Happened by Accident and 5 Bizarre Accidents That Helped Invent Modern Medicine.

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